How can digital content marketing tactics be used for a force for good? In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge swept across the globe, raising over $100 million for the ALS Association in under one month. A campaign of this magnitude in terms of monetary fundraising power has not been seen before or since.
The question remains after five years; has social media changed the face of fundraising and cause-marketing forever? For who, if anyone: non-profit, political campaign, global movement, business or cause? What is the most effective way to amplify your message and bring in dollars?
The rise of cause-marketing and hybrid one-for-one models has changed the shape of fundraising over the past few years. When Tom’s shoes burst onto the scene a decade ago with their buy-one, give-one model many began to take note. The question remains on how to maximize cause contributions whilst delivering a healthy ROI for businesses and nonprofits alike.
Whilst the success of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge was mammoth, similar success has been difficult to replicate. Many are looking for their ‘viral’ moment, but in reality, this is a risky strategy because businesses need to work on maintaining and growing relationships. It can be resource extensive expending time and energy looking for the next gimmick. The rise of viral marketing is a recent phenomenon. But it can lead to frustration after heavy investments in labor and capital in the online space are not met with a response. The truth is for every digital content marketing campaign that ‘goes viral’ and becomes a cultural phenomenon, there are hundreds of thousands of people that are left sorely disappointed.
Successful digital content marketing is about developing relationships and sustaining meaningful connections. Viral gimmicks and overnight success stories fall as quickly as they arise. Instead, meaningful relationships are built based on value and exchange. A company must rely on the creation of useful content that is then shared across multiple channels as the best strategy. This includes testing the waters to see what gets engagement and what resonates with your community. This strategy combines organic content marketing with paid social advertising.
Long-term success is achieved through long-term value and relationships for any campaign, cause, and business. Another element for cause-based businesses is ‘closing the loop’. That is a term developed by TOMS and it highlights the importance of using digital content distributed through social and email marketing as a channel to circle back and updated customers on what impact the organization is making. People like to see how many shoes have been donated and to whom. Social media is the perfect channel to connect customers with the beneficiaries of their donations, products and services, maintaining influential relationships through positive focused communication. This provides value for the customer long after the transaction has occurred and makes for an enduring relationship. The old marketing maxim goes that it is far cheaper to get an existing customer to make an additional purchase than it is to acquire a new customer.
Social media provides ample opportunity to keep existing customers engaged. Traditional marketing techniques such as a focus on price can be combined with content marketing and paid social media advertisements to create a campaign with a great ROI. Some companies can also lean on the community to help reach important goals by modifying the price, or increasingly, in the field of cause-marketing; impact. Instead of relying on discounts on the price, there is room for cause and purpose-driven organizations to play around with their lever on impact. TOMS, for example, can choose to donate more shoes.
Bravelets, a cause-based jewelry business in Austin, TX ran a successful campaign that doubled their donations on every item sold to health charities and causes on Giving Tuesday, a day in the US where philanthropy is encouraged as an antidote to mass consumer spending on the days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving. This campaign was very successful and conveyed to their community the desire they shared with their customers, to give to people in need. Bravelets capitalized on the relationships that were built and the Texas-based company raised $74,000 from jewelry purchases in 24 hours. The company combined the use of organic and paid social to create this winning formula.
Facebook, and increasingly Instagram, are highly effective tools for running paid adverts to reach out to your existing community with something new and exciting or a piece of content that is highly relevant and engaging to your audience. The work is to know what makes your audience tick, and when you find it, to amplify the message using paid social advertising. In truth, this is going to be a more effective strategy than masterminding gimmicks and viral hits.
That being said, if you find an offer, a piece of content or campaign that is well received by the community, as long as you know your key metrics you can run an effective paid campaign. If your KPIs hit, you can spend to increase the viral efficacy. It’s important for organizations to know how much they can afford to spend on any given campaign or goal. And if the content reaching those goals, that company can keep it going as long as they stay within the designated parameters. Working with an experienced agency will help any organization track data and find the key measurements they need to be tracking. The cost of acquisition is a preeminent metric to look at across your social campaigns, says former Bravelets COO Elizabeth Nakielny. “Of course this will depend on the nature of your campaign, and there is no one size fits all”.
Therefore, social media is changing the face of cause-based marketing to the extent that it is an incredible tool to develop relationships. It allows organizations to really focus on adding value to their customers and getting to know them – their likes, dislikes, and values. And armed with that knowledge, organizations can create targeted content that uplifts, informs and makes a positive impact in the lives of those around them. By all means, get creative, have fun, get quirky and experiment. Don’t be afraid of failure and when you land on creative gold, be ready to run with it and take your organization, your campaign and your goals to stratospheric heights.
Written By: Elizabeth Nakielny